x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hicksberger warns Al Wahda to cut out late mistakes

Josef Hickersberger is concerned that late goals could undo Al Wahda's championship challenge.

Al Wahda's Hamdan Al Kamali, left, is out for two weeks with a groin injury. Mike Young / The National
Al Wahda's Hamdan Al Kamali, left, is out for two weeks with a groin injury. Mike Young / The National

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, has warned his team they must eliminate the late mistakes if they are to get their Pro League title hopes on track.

The Abu Dhabi team have thrown away a possible three points by conceding goals in added time and the Austrian said: "The players can't lose concentration after 90 minutes because the game doesn't end until the final whistle is blown."

They went down 2-1 on the opening night of the Pro League when Al Shabab scored in injury time and then Al Ain salvaged a 2-2 draw with a goal in added time.

"We just can't afford to repeat those mistakes," Hickersberger said ahead of Wahda's game at Al Nasr tomorrow. "We have lost four points from such mistakes and just can't afford to drop down at this early stage of the league."

Hickersberger is expecting a close game against the Dubai side.

"We are both in the same situation, with one point from two games," he said.

"If we want to be in the league race, we must start winning from now on. We can't keep it for later because it is going to be a very close race for the title."

Wahda have been hit by injury problems with two of their key defenders absent.

Hamdan Al Kamali is ruled out for two weeks from a groin injury he suffered in the draw with Al Ain last week, and Mohammed Abdullah Al Shaibah, the Oman international, is serving a three-match ban following a red card against Shabab.

Fernando Baiano, the Brazilian forward, has still not recovered fully to be able to play 90 minutes, Hugo, the other Brazilian striker, is down with flu and Mohammed Al Shehhi was forced out of the last training session with an ankle injury.

"We have some problems but looking on the brighter side, we still have some experienced players to fill those voids with Basheer Saeed and Eisa Ahmed," Hickersberger said last night.

"We still have a very experienced squad to select from and hopefully Baiano, Hugo and Al Shehhi will be available because we still have a couple of days. We must not be looking for excuses but go out there and try to win.

"We played a better game against Al Ain than we did in the first game with Shabab. These are positives we can take forward. We are still short of a forward with Baiano still not ready to play 90 minutes.

"Until such time we have to depend on Ismail Matar, and he is showing signs of returning to his best. I also have faith on Baiano when he is fully fit. He has taken more time but he is working very hard to get back.

apassela@thenational.ae


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